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Lecture 6

SOSC 2652 Lecture 6 Readings.docx

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Social Science
SOSC 2652
Anna Pratt

CRIM 2652 Lecture 6 Readings The Police - Being on the front lines, the police have more contact with the general public than other criminal justice personnel A brief history of policing - In the early days laws were enforced on an informal basis by community residents - As settlements grew & the demands of law & order increased the need for a formal police force was needed - The first police constables appeared on the streets of Quebec city in the mid 1600s & in upper Canada (Ontario now) in the early 1800s - As communities grew policing became more formalized & organized police services were formed & expanded Defining police work - Police is an institution & policing is an activity - The public police no longer have a monopoly on policing & an increasing role in safety & security in the community is being played by private security services & para – polic officers - This phenomenon is known as the pluralization of policing Police work in a democratic society - Natural tensions between the power & authority of the police & their legal mandate to maintain order & the values & processes that exist in a democratic society - On one hand the governments & the public rely on the police to prevent & respond to crime & deal with offenders & on the other, these governments are committed to the principles of democracy & due process – and thus police officers often experience conflict in carrying out their duties - The Law Commission of Canada has identified 4 key values that form the framework within which to understand police work in Canadian society : 1) Justice - requirement that police maintain peace & security in the community while ensuring that individuals are treated fairly & human rights are respected 2) equality – all citizens are entitled to policing services that contribute to their feelings of safety & security 3) accountability – the actions of police services & police officers are subject to review 4) efficiency- policing services must be cost - effective What do police do? - For most police officers the primary role is that of peacekeeper rather than enforcer - Another large portion of the work involves restoring order in conflicts without the use of the criminal law - The police scholar Peter Manning pointed out three decades ago that many of the difficulties experienced by the police in fulfilling their mandate is the result of having this ‘vast & unmanageable social domain’ – this has lead to unrealistic expectations on the part of the general public as to what the police can realistically accomplish in terms of crime prevention & response The roles of the police - The public seems to have an undivided interest in the police & especially in those activities that involve the traditional role of catching the bad guys – this is illustrated by the ongoing popularity in Canada of American television programs such as COPS – presenting a one – dimensional portrait of the police as crime fighters - This has led many Canadians to assume policing in Canada is similar to that in the US & in fact there are many differences - For ex. county sheriffs are elected by popular vote in the US there are no elected police officials in Canada & the police in each country operate within different legislative frameworks - Over the years, the responsibility for maintain order, preventing crime, and responding to crime has become increasingly centralized & so there is a reduction in community involvement to the point where the Canadian public has come to rely & some would say rely too heavily, on the police to respond to & a sole a variety of problems & situations - The many activities that police officers become involved in can be divided into three major categories: 1) crime control 2) order maintenance - ex. quieting loud parties, responding & mediating domestic & neighbourhood disputes, intervening in conflicts that arise between citizens 3) crime prevention & service – ex. responding to traffic accidents, assisting in searches for missing persons, acting as an information/referral agency for victims of crime & for the general public - crime occupies less than 25 percent of officers’ time The political role of the police - All police services operate in a political environment – with the exception of the RCMP they are under the control of local & provincial political authorities - City councils control the budgets of municipal police services which are under the control of local political authorities - The police are mandated to enforce the criminal law which reflects political values & political ends - Given these circumstances, it is impossible for the police to avoid becoming involved in or affected by politics - Canadian police are also involved in the political process through the Canadian Professional Police Association (CPA) – an organization that represents the interests of the police across the country Factors influencing the role & activities of the police - Several factors can significantly affect the demands on police, the role they play in a community, & their ability to respond to community needs & expectations , these include: 1) legislation – new laws & amendments to existing legislation can have a sharp impact on police powers, on the demands placed on police services & on how police services set their priorities ex. Anti Terrorism Act – gives police expanded powers to deal with individuals identified as posing a threat to safety & security, it has also established a new crime “terrorist activity” 2) geography & demographics 3) the ethnic & cultural diversity of Canadian society – police services are being pressured to adapt their recruitment, training, and delivery practices to reflect the diverse needs of multicultural communities & neighbourhoods 4) police funding – as public – sector organizations, police services depend for their funding on municipal councils or provincial legislatures - many factors influence the budgets of police services, including economic downturns & efforts to reduce the public debt, etc. 5) economic, political, and cultural trends Common misconceptions of police work: - Police work in itself prevents crime Fact: specific causes of criminal behaviour & disorder in community are generally beyond the capacity of the police to address on their own - The Mounties always get their man Fact: for many categories of offences particularly those involving transnational crime & white collar crime, the chances of being detected & apprehended by the police are relatively small - Police work involves the frequent use of force Fact: in most police incidents, mere presence & communication s
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